DBGB Kitchen and Bar's Baked Alaska manages to be both a hot dish and a classic one all at once. The retro dessert has become a must-order menu item at Daniel Boulud's first D.C. restaurant.
The showstopper dessert is a five-day process from start to finish, according to DBGB's pastry chef Celia Lewis. The chef gets things going on Monday, making the raspberry sorbet. On Tuesday, it's time to spin and mold the sorbet to freeze and stabilize overnight, and make the pistachio gelato. On Wednesday, the pistachio is pumped on top of the raspberry in the mold to freeze again, and they make the vanilla sorbet. They unmold the double-layered gelato to freeze overnight.
Thursday is a time for finishing the vanilla gelato and additional molding. On Friday, they unmold all the frozen gelato and sorbet and incorporate the almond biscuit (the crust for the dessert) and the cake that figures into the Baked Alaska. The biscuit must be cut perfectly to fit the ice cream. It also gets soaked in a kirsch syrup.
DBGB makes a rich meringue enhanced with egg yolk every night before serve for the Baked Alaska. The meringue has to freeze on top of the dessert for another hour or two before it's cut into portions.
On a busy night, DBGB might sell four whole logs of Baked Alaska (slower nights require 1-2 logs, each of which has about eight portions). When it's time to serve the dessert, they'll take a portion out of the freezer, put it on a plate and torch the meringue lightly. A warmed mixture of kirsch and vodka is poured on top to help ignite the dessert (the vodka helps things from becoming a bonfire). It burns for about 10 seconds at the table. "It's enough time for the 'wow' factor without having people awkwardly standing around waiting for it to out," Lewis said. They portion it tableside (one order serves 2-4 people).
The D.C. version of the dish is one of the versions that has been served in DBGB's New York location. The dessert originally featured Chartreuse when the restaurant opened, but kirsch has proven to be more universally popular, Lewis said. The dish competes with the profiteroles for DBGB's most popular dessert. "It's a very fun dessert; it takes a lot of time, but I think it's definitely worth it," she said.